Creating a Luxury Consumer Health Experience: Lessons from a Hotel Executive

Creating a Luxury Consumer Health Experience: Lessons from a Hotel Executive

The COVID crisis has forced a shift to consumer-centric healthcare; operators must offer a competitive experience to survive in the newly-competitive market.

Solv CEO Heather Fernandez recently met with Gerard Van Grinsven to discuss the best practices for creating an unrivalled healthcare experience. For Gerard, former executive of the Ritz-Carlton and prior CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, creating a best-in-class healthcare experience is a cause near and dear to his heart. Literally, in fact, as it was the care and consideration that he received while undergoing open-heart surgery at a young age that he seeks to replicate in consumer health today.

Gerard was approached to become CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital while working to elevate guest experience as executive of the Ritz-Carlton. His years of hotel management and customer care, coupled with his lack of previous experience in healthcare, enabled him to view the system with a fresh perspective. After spending most of his career creating a luxury consumer experience for hotel guests, Gerard was surprised to find that putting patient wellness first, no matter the cost, was not a tenant by which healthcare providers were already conducting their business. He instead encountered a system bloated with insurance premiums, deductibles and copayments and hamstrung, in many ways, by government regulations and standards.

Inspired by Blue Ocean Strategy and UnHealthcare, Gerard shook the dust off archaic practices and set out to re-focus his team on holistic wellness.

The key to Gerard’s success came even before hiring a talented team and instituting a focus on holistic health. Likely due to his background in hotel management, Gerard viewed the individuals seeking care at his hospital as consumers, not patients. By appreciating that patients ultimately choose where to seek care, he recognized that it was his job to create an experience worthy of being chosen.

With that in mind, Gerard aimed to become “Cirque de Soleil of healthcare” and provide his patients an unrivalled journey in wellness. His model of consumer-centric “well-care” invested in optimal “care,” trusting health would follow. To provide this care, Gerard began by hiring the best people for the job. He hired for talent, not experience, searching for individuals who weren’t afraid to radically change the existing system. This ensured the hospital was staffed by driven individuals who wouldn’t hesitate to innovate, think differently, and make systematic changes where they were needed.

Among these changes, Gerard introduced a food-ordering system reminiscent of hotel room service, with better food quality to match. He began offering cooking classes to supplement and enhance a focus on nourishment. He did away with communal treatment rooms and nightly checks to facilitate optimal patient recovery and re-instituted rounds that included the entire care team as well as the patient’s family.

In making these changes, he re-focused his hospital team on a model of holistic wellness. Gerard argues that, while costly, this investment in patient wellness pays immeasurable dividends. Henry Ford West Bloomfield provided a haven for optimal nourishment, rest and recovery - which in turn resulted in higher patient and employee engagement scores, lower readmission and infection rates, shortened length of stay, and the lowest number of medical errors in the country. By shifting from “sick-care” to “well-care,” Gerard and his team provided an experience that left patients healthier and armed them with the knowledge necessary to stay that way.

When Gerard set out to improve his hospital, viewing patients as consumers was innovative and forward-thinking. Now, seeing patients as consumers is an imperative. The COVID crisis forced innovations and improvements to consumer experiences - from grocery stores to car shopping, users expect a streamlined, optimized experience. This change is one that is and must continue to be reflected in healthcare in order to stay competitive.

Heather, an expert in creating first-class consumer experiences, founded Solv on the same consumer-forward principles. Solv brings to healthcare the same access, convenience, and transparency that consumers have when they book a hotel, order an uber, or look for homes online. Solv's strong background in consumer research allows operators nationwide to provide their patients a first-class, intuitive healthcare experience.

Millions of patients use Solv each month to find care. Want to learn more about Solv and how we're helping practices of all sizes deliver an exceptional patient experience?

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